I commend the efforts of local citizens such as Cheryl Carpenter, among many others, who offer us not only their lifetimes of lived experiences within the forest, but also a substantial body of scientific research they have gathered regarding the short and long-term detrimental impacts of clear-cutting on the forest soil and regeneration of native species.
I came to the protest/rally to lend support, because I am appalled at some officials both within and outside the division who show blatant disregard and slap-on-the-wrist responses toward the voices of local citizens and the critical issues the good people of Shawnee Forest try to raise in order to help inform the public about the forest that belongs to the public.
Gov. Strickland, ODNR and the Division of Forestry's stubborn pronouncement to go ahead with plans to clear-cut 89 acres along the historic Day Trail is akin to spitting in the face of concerned and dedicated local citizens who have expressed alarm at the slash-and-burn type of woodland management that is occurring at Shawnee Forest.
While it is common knowledge Shawnee's unique forest resources exist nowhere else in the state - nowhere else in the country for that matter - state officials who have positions of power turn a blind eye to Shawnee's uniqueness and instead choose to exploit the forest by using the letter of "the law" in unison with tax-payer dollars and federal grants, all the while touting to the public a set of carefully screened forest science/research that only supports clear-cutting as sound forest management.
One truth the division does not want to talk about much with the public is clear-cutting being the cheapest, fastest way to extract board feet from the forest. It seems to me the division's new "super-sized" strategic plan for clear-cutting in public forests is much like the corporate mindset behind fast food franchises.
In other words, it's cheaper and faster to just whack everything down, count the cash and move on to more areas of green gold to clear-cut.
I applaud the efforts of Voices for the Forest and the good people of Shawnee Forest who stand up to the corporate greed that has invaded ODNR.
Ohio schools have achieved much success
As I reflect upon my time in Ohio, I am grateful for the hard work of Ohio's educators and students, and proud of the success our schools have achieved.
It's been quite a journey to get to where we are today. Ten years ago, we had no information to tell us how well special needs, poor, and racially and ethnically diverse students were learning. We also had 69 school districts in Academic Emergency.
Today, Ohio's education system has national prominence, ranking seventh in the nation in Education Week's 2008 Quality Counts Report.
In the 1990s, we were in the middle of the pack. On national measures, our students consistently perform better than the national average. A record number of Ohio students took the ACT college entrance exam in 2008, representing 65 percent of high school graduates. Our average score is the 9th highest in the nation.
The local report cards released this week mirror this success.
The statewide average of all students' tests scores has increased by more than 25 percent since 1999-2000, and for the third year in a row, we have no districts in Academic Emergency. Our graduation rate has increased from 79.8 percent in 1996-97 to 86.9 percent.
As we celebrate our progress, we also should recognize the challenges ahead. Ohio's battle with achievement gaps has yet to be won.
We have a 19-point gap in the graduation rate between black and white students. Ohio must continue to fight so all students - regardless of their zip code, income, race, disability or family background - receive the high-quality education they deserve.
We must have high expectations for all students and explore new methods of teaching and learning that reflect the real-world knowledge our students need to thrive in our ever-shrinking world. Our students must be able to collaborate and compete with students in other states and countries so together, they can create a better humanity than what we've given them.
But our schools can't do it alone. It will take the leadership and resources of businesses, policymakers, higher education and local communities to prepare our children for a world we cannot yet imagine. Together, you can continue the journey and elevate Ohio's education system to world prominence.
Susan Tave Zelman
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ohio Department of Education
Voters urged to approve funds for Vernon Township fire department, EMS I saw in a recent newspaper article Vernon Township EMS once again is on the ballot asking for funding.
I urge everybody to vote to approve funds for the fire department and EMS in Vernon Township.
As a child, I lived with my parents at Ashley Corner for 15 years. During this time, the EMS squad there saved my mother's life countless times. She struggled with her diabetes for years, and if there had not been a local EMS squad, she would not have lived for as long as she did.
The department there is made up of wonderful people who do a fantastic job, and I never could thank them enough for all they did for my family.
Please vote to keep the fire department and EMS of Vernon Township in operation. I hope you never have to use their services, but if you do need them, they just may save your life as well.
Reader believes pet adoption fees are reasonable
I would like to respond to the article sent regarding high pet adoption fees.
The first dog I adopted from a kill shelter was a puppy. He lived to the ripe age of 19 before passing on two years ago.
Since then, I have adopted two lab/dane mixes, both from kill shelters.
I feel the fees are more than reasonable. These animals have had their basic shots, have been sterilized and have had necessary vet care before adoption.
For most, it's the first vetting they ever have had. If you can't afford or are not willing to pay the adoption fee, what happens if Fido gets sick or breaks a leg?
Can you or will you afford to have them vetted? Are you going to pay for their heartworm prevention each month or flea/tick control?
What about yearly checkups and vaccinations?
So many people get these animals as pets, then when they get sick or hurt, they are not properly vetted because owners say they can't afford it or just refuse to pay it.
Some die, but many end up in the shelters. True, it is a sad thing for unwanted animals to be put to sleep, but if individuals who get pets were responsible, we wouldn't have shelters.
If you can't afford the adoption fees, then you can't afford to properly care for a pet.